The verse inked in the center reads: Traverse the world; go fly from pole to pole/ Go, far as winds can blow, or water roll–/ All, all is Vanity beneath the Sun/ To certain Death, though different paths we run./Where then is sovereign bliss? Where does it grow? Lisetta, Happiness ne’r dwelt below;/ Look towards Heaven, be Heaven thy only care,/ Spurn the vile Earth–go seek thy treasure there./ From your affectionate aunt LCB 1852.
Another inscription in a different hand at the bottom reads: Presented by Mrs. L. C. Blickensderfer 1832 [sic]/ Aunt of Mrs. Lisetta Meinung and May Van Vleck. December 25th 1914.
Although she was living in Dover, Ohio, in 1852, it is possible that Louisa made this paintings while visiting her family here in Salem. The year she made it is the year the niece for whom she made it, Lisetta, started teaching school at Salem Girls’ Boarding School. As a former Salem teacher herself, Louisa had no doubt taught girls the very skills she used in creating this painting.
Flowers have long been used as symbols in art and literature. In the nineteenth century the “Language of flowers” or the use of flowers to convey symbolic messages became very popular. According to “The Language of Flowers” published in Philadelphia by Lea and Blanchard in 1839 “The Langauage and Sentiment of Flowers” written by James McCabe and first published in 1860, and the meanings for some of the flowers Louisa used in her wreath are as follows:
Asters: variety, afterthought
Forget-me-nots: forget me not
Roses: love, grace, beauty
Rosebud: a young girl
Morning glory: affection
Primrose: early youth or lasting love
Pansies (Heart’s ease): thoughts; think of me
ARTIST: Louisa Charlotte (Kramsch) Blickensderfer (1795-1880) was a the daughter of Samuel Kramsch, the first inspector of Salem Girls’ School and his wife, Susanna. When she came of age, she was a teacher at the Girls Boarding School untuil 1831 when she moved to Rhode Island to be near her sister (Susanna Kramsch Van Vleck). By 1841 she was living in Ohio She married Jacob Blickensderfer (1790-1856) in 1841 and they lived in the Dover, Ohio, where they attended the newly founded Moravian church there. Jacob was an associate judge of the court of common please, and was a member of the Ohio constitutional convention in 1850. He is buried in the Sharon Moravian Cemetery in Tuscarawas, Ohio. Louisa remained in Dover Township at least until 1870 when she is listed on the 1870 census. She died in Ohio and an inventory of her estate is listed in Ohio Wills and Probate Records, 1768-1998, Tuscarawas Vol. 20-21, 1879-1882 (accessed on Ancestry.com).
Lisetta Van Vleck Meinung (1830-1914) was the daughter of Louisa’s sister Susanna Christina Kramsch Van Vleck and Charles Anthony Van Vleck. Lisetta was born in Newport Rhode Isalnd and her family moved to Greenville, Tennessee where her father died in 1846 (He is buried in Salem, NC). After her father’s death, her mother returned to Salem, North Carolina. Lisetta became a teacher in the Salem Girls Boarding School in 1852. She married Alexander Meinung of Salem, NC, in 1868.